Everyone in this world has his or her own poison. And if caffeine is yours, then this is just for you.
The ironic thing about this is that caffeine is just about everywhere. You can find it not just in coffee, but also in black tea, and even green tea. You can also find it even in chocolate, energy drinks, soda, and even medications that you can purchase over the counter. As omnipresent as caffeine can be, it is then a must for people to know its adverse effects on sleep.
So what are the effects of caffeine on your sleep?
There are actually several processes that have control over how much sleep we get and even the quality of the sleep that we get. And when you’re an avid fan of caffeine, then one of these processes that you need to know is sleeping homeostat. In simple terms, this refers to our need for sleep. The normal and healthy way is that the longer we stay awake, the bigger our need to sleep. That makes sense, right? In this process, the neurotransmitter known as adenosine reduces the activity levels of the neurons in your brain. Adenosine also inhibits or prevents the release of other neurotransmitters that stimulate a person’s arousal or wakefulness. In short, it is adenosine that makes people sleepy.
Caffeine, on the other hand, exists to antagonize adenosine. The way it antagonizes adenosine is it actually blocks the receptors of this transmitter, thereby inserting itself into the picture instead. And once caffeine enters our system, it is welcome rather quickly, even reaching its peak levels in just 20 to 75 minutes. That is why when you take caffeine during the day, you cannot help but get a fast energy boost. You become more alive, alert, awake, and enthusiastic. Your reaction time becomes faster, and even your attention span becomes longer and more focused.
The problem is actually when caffeine is being processed. You see, it takes 3 to 7 hours to remove half of a single dose of caffeine from our system. So, the more caffeine your body consumes, the longer it would take for your body to get rid of it. And when that happens, caffeine reduces your total amount of sleep time. You have less time for deep sleep, and your sleep latency or the time for you to go to sleep also increases.
What’s worse, caffeine intake and sleep deprivation or loss are so easy to repeat. Its cycle even makes a lot of sense. You drink a lot of coffee today because you need to finish a task at work or at school. Because of this, you don’t sleep well in the evening. And then when you wake up, you feel so tired and sluggish because of the lack of sleep. So, you brew another cup, and yet another, and yet another. Pretty soon, the cycle just plays out for itself – and you become just too helpless to do something about it.
With this in mind, it is really recommended to regulate the amount of caffeine that you consume each day. The daily dose that is recommended is actually 300 to 400 mg of caffeine. Anything higher than that can prove to be disruptive to your sleep, and ultimately, to your health and daily living.